Q and A: Can my developer’s footer links cause a ranking penalty?



Our site [URL Provided] has a google penalty of some sort. Our webmaster has a link to his site anchor text his, on every page on our site. Our site is 3yrs old, pr3. Our homepage an only our homepage is not showing up in the google serps for long tail kw’s. When before it use to rank very well, the homepage that is. Now for kw;s our inner pages are showing up. Really confusing.. So with the above do you think this is our problem? Cause of our webmasters site wide link on our site?

Any info will be helpful.

Thank you

Hi Carlos,

Rest assured that links to your web developer in the footer are very unlikely to have any impact on your rankings.  Site wide footer links to developer websites are pretty standard, and although once considered useful for SEO purposes are of questionable real value these days.

From a brief analysis I have undertaken on your site, I can see no evidence of a ranking penalty at all. If a  penalty was active it would most likely impact all pages (not just the home page), and would also affect specific queries as well as long tail ones – which is not the case  – your home page is showing up fine in the SERPs for your business name for example.

It’s not unusual for a home page to rank worse than an inner page for long tail keywords – particularly if the keywords are product related.  If someone searches for a specific product name or model number for example, you would expect (and hope) that your product page would show up rather than your home page.

If you are still concerned that your home page rankings have dropped for certain keyword phrases, I suggest that you undertake an analysis of your Google Analytics data – to see what keywords your home page has receieved traffic for historically.  You can then start to look at these keywords individually and see if there is a significant drop off.  Use analytics to identify any trends and help narrow down if/when the problem started to occur.

You could discover that a drop in rankings for your home page may have a corresponding increase in rankings for your product pages.  This is a good thing because it indicates that the search engines have a higher “confidence” in your inner pages, and probbaly means that your SEO strategies are working.

However, if your overall traffic (not just home page) has dropped, it may suggest that your competitors are getting smarter about SEO, and undertaking optimisation strategies to improve their own rankings (at the expense of yours).  This may indicate the need for you to review and improve your own SEO strategy.

Andy Henderson
Web Consulting (Brisbane)